Not having a dog in this particular fight, I can only sit back and laugh at how quickly The Journal News and now Gawker Media are realizing that private American citizens enjoy their… well, privacy. Extra bonus points got to Gawker for labeling all firearm-owning New Yorkers as "Assholes" – way to make friends and influence people, especially in New York.
On the one hand, a fair argument could be made that these lists endanger firearm owners – after all, firearms are high-value items that are typically useful to criminals for a variety of reasons, and The Journal News and Gawker just provided those criminals with a shopping list of locations where firearms are stored.
On the other hand, a fair argument could be made that these lists endanger folks who do not own firearms – after all, criminals generally like breathing (shocking, I know), and may avoid homes where they are likely to be shot, instead hitting up homes they know are disarmed and defenseless.
On the gripping hand, absolutely no argument could be made that publishing these lists was necessary or good, or that any good could come of doing so. Just replace "firearm owner" with "blacks" or "gays" or "Jews" and tell me all the good that can come of those lists.
What is that you are saying? Neither Gawker nor The Journal News published addresses? So? Using nothing more than their first and last names, I was able to dig up home addresses, phone numbers, and home property tax information on the entire staff of the Commercial Appeal, a newspaper here in Tennessee that oh-so-very-kindly published a searchable database of handgun carry permit holders. Put I had to pay money to pull up all that information, right? Wrong. All of that information is publicly available on the internet, through free sources, and required nothing more than first and last names to begin searching.
So to John Cook, the editor of Gawker, who is whining about people posting his address, I can only say, "Suck it up, you privacy-invading wanker."
Speaking of the Commercial Appeal, though, I guess I should look into updating its database, since the information there is nearly four years out of date.
In the intervening years, of course, they have had a little turnover in their staff. Most notably, Joseph Pepe and Karl Wurzbach appear to have been fired (could not happen to nicer people), but, since the original handgun carry permit database was posted and maintained during their watch, their names will remain in this counter-database, as will all of the names of folks employed at CA during that period. In fact, Stephen Tomb is about the only "Vice President" to survive whatever culling the Commercial Appeal went through recently, and no one has stepped up (or been allowed to step up) to fill Joseph’s and Karl’s now-empty positions. One can only hope the
bird cage liner newspaper is slowly augering its way into oblivion.
Likewise, people, like Otis Sanford, have moved; their addresses and information have been appropriately updated.
Gary L. Robinson, Managing Editor, Digital
Current information unknown.
Denise Holman, Former Manager of Classified Advertising
Current address/information unknown.
(NOTE: Gary L. Robinson seems like the only one who keeps all his information private.)
Again, I stress that all of this information was put together from free, public sources using nothing but the above persons’ first and last names (and a healthy bit of guesswork) as a starting point. If I can assemble that much data on these folks in just a few minutes, how much do you think a dedicated stalker or identity thief can put together?
And as a final point regarding these various and sundry assholes publishing the information of who owns or carries firearms in their respective states, I give you this quote from Gawker commenter "K-leigh" (link intentionally omitted):
The journal posted my address and name for my gun ownership. My past stalker saw this. I haven’t heard from him in two years, because I disappeared. Now he is back and calling me……thanks to people like you bunch of assholes, looks like I will have to protect myself from becoming a murder victim. Gracias.
Whether or not her story is true is somewhat immaterial; the point stands. Numerous people own firearms precisely because of past negative experiences, and lists like these only serve to facilitate those who inflicted negative experiences on others – stalkers, abusers, etc. Once again, the list works both ways – it can help stalkers find old prey, but it can also help stalkers learn their current or past prey is unarmed.
Law enforcement officials from a New York region where a local paper published a map identifying gun owners say prisoners are using the information to intimidate guards.
Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco, who spoke at a news conference flanked by other county officials, said the Journal News’ decision to post an online map of names and addresses of handgun owners Dec. 23 has put law enforcement officers in danger.
"They have inmates coming up to them and telling them exactly where they live. That’s not acceptable to me," Falco said, according to Newsday.
When even the Only Ones, and New York’s Only Ones at that, think you did something stupid… well…
Flagrantly violating hundreds of thousands (millions?) of law-abiding citizens’ privacy and security serves no rational purpose to anyone this side of the law, and I cannot say as though I am terribly fond of those who aid and abet criminals. It could be argued, I suppose, that I am doing exactly the same thing right now, but if those folks listed above believe one’s personal information should be made public on account of lawfully exercising one’s Constitutionally-protected rights… well, I am merely assisting them in fulfilling their desires, am I not? If it is good for one right protected by one Amendment, it is good for another right protected by another Amendment.
Don’t start nothin’; won’t be nothin’.